Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Music of Black Africa on Future Radio

The classical music blog On An Overgrown Path is written from the U.K. by Pliable, aka Bob Shingleton, a staunch ally of AfriClassical Bob tells us a special Future Radio broadcast is planned for 12:01 AM (Local Time), Monday, May 26. On An Overgrown Path will run a series of features on the broadcast in the coming weeks. AfriClassical is proud to post the initial press release:

Norwich radio station’s world music premiere
Norwich’s FM and internet station Future Radio scores another
first over the holiday weekend with the broadcast premiere of a complete traditional African trance ritual recorded in the Medina of Marrakech, Morocco. The performance is played by traditional gnawa musicians (photos above and below) and has been made possible by a collaboration between the Norwich community station Future Radio 96.9FM and KamarStudios who are based in Marrakech and New York.

Marrakech is known as the Gate of Black Africa and gnawa music came to Morocco from sub-Saharan Africa with the slave trade. For centuries gnawa has only been played in secret spirit-possession and healing ceremonies called lilas that evolved from ancient African animistic and Islamic Sufi rituals. In these religious rites healing spirits are said “to mount” the possessed, who whirl and writhe in an ecstatic trance which sometimes reaches such a frenzy that they self-harm.

Recordings of the gnawa trance rituals are very rare as they are performed in private. But KamarStudios have worked with leading gnawa musicians to record the complete ‘black’ section of the twelve hour long Nights of the Seven Colours trance ritual which celebrates the creation of the universe. The ‘black’ ritual lasts for two hours and in a broadcast first will be aired on Future Radio without interruption.

Gnawa music, which combines vocals with intricate rhythms and cross rhythms created by hand-held drums, African lute and iron castanets, has many connections with contemporary music and now has its own festival at Essaouira on the Moroccan coast which attracts an international audience, while Steve Reich and many other contemporary composers have been influenced by African drum rhythms.

To reflect these contemporary connections the broadcast of the sacred lilas is being paired with a one hour set which combines the traditional musicians with two young Marrakech DJs for a twenty first century ‘minimalist trance’ take on centuries-old gnawa. The electro-acoustic set will conclude the three hour programme which is being presented on Bob Shingleton’s Overgrown Path programme over the holiday weekend starting at one minute past midnight on the morning of Monday May 26th.

For further information and photo opportunities contact Bob Shingleton on overgrownpath@hotmail.co.uk phone or Tom Buckham on t.buckham@nr5project.co.uk

Future Radio background here - http://www.futureradio.co.uk/

KamarStudios and gnawa background here - http://kamarstudios.com/wordpress/index.php?cat=3

Bob Shingleton’s arts and music blog here - http://www.overgrownpath.com/

Photos of the Master Musicians of Marrakech courtesy KamarStudios .

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